Anyone who hasn’t yet been granted a number for the 2014 Boston Marathon may be out of luck.
In the past, aspiring marathoners might still be able to pluck a number bib for official entry from a Boston-area running club or by joining a charity team, but both paths are all but completely blocked because of the high interest generated in next year’s race.
Numbers from local clubs are pretty much allocated, despite the entry fee of over $300, and applicants to run with charity teams have skyrocketed despite tougher standards for raising funds.
“Dream Big,” for example, has 200 applicants for 15 numbers and Team Red Cross has 190 applicants for 35 slots, compared to 75 hopefuls last year. Mass. General Hospital has 600 applicants for 100 numbers.
With the heightened interest, the minimum has increased for funds runners must raise. The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, for example, is only considering people who commit to raise $7,500, which is up from $5,000 last year.
Last year, there were 2,000 charity runners at Boston. Officials have raised that limit to 3,000 for 2014 for an expanded field of 36,000, but it’s still extremely tough to secure a number.
Nothing will approach the Feaster Five in Andover, which attracted more than 10,000 runners, but there were plenty of other popular races on Thanksgiving.
Leading the way was the 25th Maudslay Turkey Trot at Maudslay Park. Won by former Timberlane standout and UNH senior Lou Saviano in 16:06, it drew 1,519 runners. The nearby Wild Turkey Trot at Pipestave fields in West Newbury attracted 416 runners.
The Greater Derry Turkey Trot, meanwhile, attracted 1,248 runners and had a battle for first as former Pinkerton standout Peter Najem ran an excellent 15:58 to nip another Pinkerton grad, Kevin McMahon, by a second.
The biggest increase in runners was the North Reading 5K Turkey Trot. With North Reading High seniors Eli Spicer and Jake O’Connell finishing one-two, 1,228 runners crossed the finish line.
Just out of the circulation area, 1,593 runners finished in Salem and another 1,469 in Lowell.
Add the numbers and you’ll see why Thanksgiving is truly the biggest day of the year for road runners in the Merrimack Valley.
Mill Cities Relay
Only five more days until one of the most unique races in New England — the Mill Cities Relay.
On Sunday at 8 a.m., a brick will be dropped on the road in Nashua and over 250 team members — over 1,200 participants on five different legs total from 20 teams — will speed off on the relay trek along the Merrimack River to the Claddagh Pub in Lawrence.
This is considered the embodiment of running in the Merrimack Valley, one of the great hotbeds of running in the country.
The five legs will be 5.45, 4.75, 2.55, 9.50, and 4.75 miles along much the same course as was laid out for the first relay in 1984.
The Mill Cites Relay was founded one year after the famous Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon. But unlike the legendary Oregon race, it is an invitation-only event where members of 20 clubs, the Mill Cities Alliance, compete for overall honors.
It’s also a fun event full of camaraderie and a fitting unofficial end to the road racing season.
Record at ‘Pride’
Former Pentucket standout Alanna Poretta, a senior at Boston College, broke her own course record at the Pentucket Pride 5K Sunday, turning in a stellar 18:09, which was good for second place overall, trailing only Garry Cuneo.
Also of note in the race, which drew 183 finishers in drizzly and raw conditions, 12-year-old Connor Alessi of the Bradford Huskies was sixth overall in 19:45. Finally, iron man Bob Strout of Salisbury completed his fourth race in four days and fifth race in eight days.